Submits fresh proposal to MoEF listing changes; Brings down number of villages from 99 to 69
PANJIM: The Goa government has urged the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest (MoEF) requesting an almost 50 per cent reduction in the total area identified as Eco-Sensitive Areas (ESA) along the Western Ghats region, under the latter’s draft notification issued in October 2018.
The High Level Working Group (HLWG) of the MoEF headed by Dr Kasturirangan had recommended an area of 1,461 sq km as ESA covering 99 villages. A notification in this regard was issued on October 3, 2018.
Disagreeing with the same, the Goa government submitted a proposal recommending that 707 sq km of area with 69 villages be declared as ESA. These include 31 villages in and around Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) (Sattari), 16 along Netrawali WLS (Quepem), 15 of Bhagwan Mahavir WLS (Dharbandora), five in Bondal WLS (Ponda) and two in Cotigao WLS (Canacona).
At a meeting held in February this year, under the chairmanship of MoEF secretary C K Mishra, the States of Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala were granted a month to submit a final proposal including ESA areas, list of villages, maps, GPS report along with justification, in case, of deviation from the recommendation of the HLWG.
“We have submitted fresh proposal to the Ministry following the meeting held in February,” sources said.
Based on the proposals submitted by the States, the Ministry would constitute an expert committee comprising members from the respective States to make an early assessment on the proposal submitted. “MoEF will rectify genuine errors and update the list of villages appearing in the ESA under draft notification,” the Ministry said.
At the same time, it clarified that “considering the importance of Western Ghats region, there will be no fragmentation of ESA and there will be one single notification covering entire ESA to protect the ecology of the region”.
The HLWG, in its report submitted in 2014, had divided Goa’s Western Ghats region into three talukas identifying 99 villages – Sattari (56), Sanguem (38) and Canacona (3).
The Ministry has already clarified that there would be no displacement or dislocation of the people living in habitation within the demarcated area in the Western Ghats and practicing of agriculture and plantation activity will not be affected.
The Ministry in the draft notification had maintained the prohibition of fresh iron ore mining activities in the ESA, while phasing out the existing leases in five years.